Nick Palmer, Broxtowe’s Labour Candidate, on Animal Welfare Breakthrough/Are You Registered?/Help With Deliveries?
Apologies for a few days’ delay in answering some emails – I’ve been on a quick flight to Korea, where we’ve had a breakthrough in my animal welfare day job
11 hours’ flight each way in 3 days means not much sleep, but lots of time to write emails. So with less than two months to go to the General Election and Broxtowe the 8th closest race in the whole country, I’d like to write a largely non-partisan practical note on what will happen and how you can get involved. I hope you’ll find it helpful.
First, it’s important that everyone is actually able to vote. There are two things to check:
1. Is Everyone in the Household Registered Here?
With the introduction of individual voter registration, several million voters nationally have dropped off the register. This applies in particular to areas where people move house often and to students, who can no longer be registered collectively by their universities. If you’re not sure if you’re registered, you can check by ringing Broxtowe Electoral Services on (0115) 917 3276.
Registration is easy to do online, though you need to have your National Insurance number (which you can check on a wage slip, student loan form, pension statement or a host of other official documents). The website to register is here:
Register to vote – GOV.UK and it will take less than 5 minutes. Please pass this on to anyone who you think might not be registered.
A particularly important point is that If you divide your time fairly evenly between two places – e.g. you’re a student away during term time – you can register in both and vote in either, though you can’t vote twice in the same national election. It’s probably most worthwhile to vote here in Broxtowe rather than in the other seat, because it’s so close here that a handful of votes could well decide the outcome.
2. Would a Postal Vote be Useful For You?
At every election, all parties find that around 10% of the people who planned to vote for them can’t do it on the day, because they’re unwell, or unexpectedly away, or just too busy with a family crisis or other issues. We therefore encourage people to sign up for postal votes. The way this works is that you receive the ballot paper a couple of weeks in advance of polling day, and can then send it back when it’s convenient for you. Again, this is particularly helpful to students, who can vote in Broxtowe even if they’re studying elsewhere, but it is also important for anyone doing shift work or in uncertain health.
You can order a postal vote by ringing the electoral services number above, or downloading the form at: http://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=109&p=0
In rare cases, you may prefer to order a proxy vote, which means getting someone who you trust to vote for you. This applies mainly if you’re likely to be far away so that a postal vote might not reach you and get sent back in time. The form for that is here:
3. Help in Delivering Election Literature
A common criticism of candidates is that they don’t go into enough detail about what they will do for the constituency. The problem is that there are about 40,000 homes in Broxtowe, and it takes about an hour to deliver 100 leaflets, so sending one leaflet to everyone takes about 400 hours, or say 4 hours each for 100 volunteers. Wealthy parties can pay for this to be done (by post or delivery service), but everyone else has to do it by volunteer effort. Whichever candidate you prefer would certainly welcome your help if you can spare a few hours. If you’d like to help me get my message out in the next few weeks, please let me know:
• Your address
• Your phone number to contact
• Whether you can help outside your immediate area (e.g. if you live in Chilwell, could you help if we are short of help around IKEA in Kimberley?).
On election day – Thursday May 7 – itself there will be masses to do, and elections are fascinating exercises in democracy. If you’d like to see the process at close hand, do take the day off and help!
4. What’s Going to Happen Here?
The election will formally be called around the end of this month. At that point, tighter spending limits kick in, creating a more level playing field, though it’s still possible for national parties to get around the limits e.g. by “national” poster campaigns which “accidentally” happen to be in marginal seats. It looks as though we will have fewer all-party hustings events than last time, when we had half a dozen. Ms Soubry has declined to take part in any before all the manifestos are published, and has also indicated that she’d rather not take part in debates on special subjects like education, though I’ve agreed to debate the other candidates on this and perhaps she will reconsider. There will be a BBC TV debate for Broxtowe in mid-April, and I’m aware that the churches and other groups are hoping to organise hustings as well.
Apart from Ms Soubry and me, there will be candidates for the LibDems (not yet selected a candidate at all), UKIP, Greens and the new Men and Boys Party. The BNP seems to have given up. UKIP actually won Broxtowe in the Euro elections, but it’s fair to say that it’s generally thought that the winner in the General Election will be either Ms Soubry or me (punters can get up to 100-1 odds against other candidates): The gap between us last time was just 0.7%, and the outcome probably hinges partly on whether voters who normally support one of the other parties decide to lend support to one of us to help decide the outcome. Last time, we got 39% each, while the LibDems got 17% and the Greens 0.8%, dividing the left-of-centre vote enough to produce a Conservative win.
There will be another election, for Broxtowe Borough Council, on the same day, so you’ll have two ballot papers. Depending on where you live, your borough council vote may go to two or three candidates, because each ward has 2-3 councillors. The count for the General Election will be on the night of May 7 and is likely to be televised, though I think the Borough Council will count next day.
Because it’s so hard to predict the outcome, the election here should be good fun as well as important. Whatever your preferences, please do take part and let’s make May 7 a day to remember!